Hariri Plans Lebanese Anti-Hizbullah Million-Man March
Lebanon's former Prime Minister Saad Hariri doesn't plan to sit back and let Hizbullah and its allies, whom, he said, displayed "lies, betrayal and lack of loyalty,” to sit back and enjoy the fruits of their political coup against him undisturbed.
At a mass rally in Beirut Monday, Hariri said he would not join the new government being formed by Najb Mukati. Instead, as he told thousands of protesters at a rally commemorating the the assassination of his father, Rafik Hariri, he plans to lead a “million-man march” next month, evoking a similar event six years ago, when some one million protesters gathered to protest Syria's interference in Lebanese affairs.
The protest will take place on March 14, the date of the earlier protest and the name of Hariri's former ruling coalition. The coalition was toppled when Druze leader Walid Jumblatt jumped to Hizbullah's side, giving the terror group the votes it needed to take control of the Lebanese parliament. “We are going on March 14 to say no,” Hariri told the crowd. “No to the betrayal of coexistence… no to [Hizbullah's] armed internal tutelage, no to moving Lebanon to an axis rejected by the Lebanese,” an axis which consists of, he said, Iran, Syria, and Hizbullah.
One of the major issues in Lebanese politics has been the investigation by an international tribunal of the elder Hariri's murder in 2005. Most observers expect the tribunal to finger Hizbullah as being behind the murder, with the terror group threatening violence if it is blamed for Hariri's death. In his speech, Hariri defended the tribunal, which, he said, “will accuse members and will not do so randomly," he said. “It has to be based on evidence and proof.”
Hizbullah had used intimidation to bully its way into office on the background of the investigation, Hariri said. “We congratulate them on a majority that was hijacked by the intimidation of weapons and we congratulate them on a power that was stolen from the will of the voters."
"Our mistake may have been that we extended our hand truthfully every time," Hariri said, telling the crowd that he had been trying to work out an arrangement by which Lebanon could put his father's murder behind it, and move on to a new spirit of cooperation. “But we were met every time with deceit, and our genuine intention was taken as a point of weakness and a sign of fear."
Speaking Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon affirmed the UN's commitment to the efforts of the tribunal, a day after U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the new Lebanese government to cooperate with the court.